Honours even on a stop-start day
After a nine-day break between the end of the extraordinary events at Old Trafford and the resumption of hostilities here, the question was who would bring more momentum into this match. The initial signs - as Trescothick and Andrew Strauss laid into a patched-up Australia attack - were that England were again on top, but Australia produced enough evidence to suggest that the final two Tests in this epic series will be as tough as the previous three.
Australia, for the second time in three Tests, received a blow just before the teams were named when Glenn McGrath was ruled out an elbow injury. With Tait already pencilled in for his first Test, Michael Kasprowicz was recalled in similar circumstances to his hurried inclusion at Edgbaston following McGrath's ankle injury.
As McGrath and the dropped Jason Gillespie - with a combined total of 764 Test wickets - watched from the pavilion, Brett Lee led the Australian attack after Vaughan had won the toss. Trescothick and Strauss played the opening half a dozen overs very watchfully but it quickly became apparent that the pitch was flat, there was no swing and the Australia attack was fairly unthreatening.
Without a full-strength attack it was vital that Australia made the most of their chances but there were again a clutch of missed opportunities. Trescothick was bowled off a no-ball by Lee, Kevin Pietersen was dropped by Kasprowicz from a caught-and-bowled chance on 14, and Matthew Hayden spilled Vaughan in the gully when he had 30. Hayden also missed a chance to run out Pietersen with a shy at the stumps and Australia continued to lack that edge which everyone has become accustomed to.
However, Tait did bring a new dimension to the bowling attack, even if his opening spell was rather erratic. He nudged the speedgun into the mid-nineties but Ponting quickly turned to Shane Warne - who was welcomed by a straight six from Trescothick - with England rattling past 100 at their familiar scoring rate of over four an over.
Trescothick moved to fifty from 77 balls and it was difficult to see where a wicket was coming from. But you rarely have to look further than Warne in that sort of situation and he conjured one up when Strauss bottom-edged a sweep onto his foot and the ball ballooned up to Matthew Hayden at slip. Strauss stood his ground as Steve Bucknor referred the decision to the third umpire and the replays clearly showed the ball had hit his boot and not the ground.
Trescothick then received his stroke of fortune when he dragged Lee into his stumps only for the umpire to call no-ball. The Australians were well into their celebrations when they heard the call - and Trescothick was off towards the dressing room - but the bowlers had been asking for trouble. A profligate 18 no-balls were sent down before lunch and although they imporved to keep the tally down to 22 overall it was only a matter of time before they claimed wicket from one of them.
But any momentum England took into lunch was washed away by the frustrating stream of showers that passed over the ground during the afternoon. Just 3.1 overs were possible between lunch and tea and it was Australia - having had time to regroup - who benefited from the stop-start nature of play.
While the openers had blazed away during a sunny morning session the clouds hovering around Trent Bridge now gave the bowlers extra encouragement. Tait made a dramatic first mark when he castled Trescothick with the fourth ball of the evening session and then produced a perfect outswinger to Ian Bell, which was edged through to Adam Gilchrist. It was an impressive burst from Tait who showed all the attributes which had been talked of before the Test.
Within the space of 15 minutes England's innings had a new complexion and some careful consolidation was required by Vaughan and Pietersen. They were both selective in their strokeplay, content to leave plenty of deliveries, but not afraid to dispatch loose offerings to the boundary. Both received let-offs and Vaughan, especially, set about making the most of his second life as he passed his half-century from 77 balls. He unleashed a range of well-timed strokes but none better than a stunning cover drive off Lee.
Pietersen was his usual hyperactive self, walking across his stumps to make the most of the gaps in the leg side. But after almost getting himself run out he held back some of his attacking instincts. This was due, in no small part, to Ponting who sensed the need for another breakthrough and decided on the bold move of introducing himself.
The gamble paid rich dividends when Vaughan, just as he appeared set for a major innings, feathered a catch through to Gilchrist. Ponting's strike broke a stand of 67 between Vaughan and Pietersen but whether the move was a captaincy masterstroke or act of desperation is still open to debate. One thing that wasn't expect this summer was that Ponting and Warne would bowl the same number of overs on the opening day of a Test.
However, given the current state of their bowling attack Ponting won't care where the wickets come from. There has never been a dull session in this series and with England's powerful - if inconsistent - middle order at the crease and Australia knowing a couple of quick strikes will give them control, this match is on a knife edge.
Andrew Strauss c Hayden b Warne 35 (105 for 1)
Bottom edge sweep into boot, looped to slip
Marcus Trescothick b Tait 65 (137 for 2)
Played around a full inswinger
Ian Bell c Gilchrist b Tait 3 (146 for 3)
Edged an outswinger
Michael Vaughan c Gilchrist b Ponting 58 (213 for 4)
Nibbled at a ball which moved away
Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of Cricinfo